What is networking? It's an easy question to answer. It's about meeting people, sharing information and services, building relationships, and a multitude of ways to connect with individuals. This can open doors to opportunities and new endeavors. The act of networking is powerful and helps to establish and build relationships that can have many positive outcomes.
Networking sounds easy enough but many people don't know how to network. Arden Clise, of Clise Etiquette, has been a business etiquette consultant for many years. She confirms that networking is vital to one's professional success, yet most people struggle with how to network.
LWHRA hosted Arden Clise at the annual networking evening chapter event where she provided some key techniques to use (and master) when networking. To network effectively, you have to be and appear confident and comfortable with conversing with people in all types of situations.
Here are a few key items to keep in mind when you network:
The art of the handshake is critical to master as it can convey many things about an individual from an introvert to extrovert. Although its purpose was originally to demonstrate that you were not holding a weapon, it has evolved from this medieval use to a standard form of introduction in the business world. You want to make sure that your handshake is firm and your grip encompasses the entire hand. Be sure that your hands are dry (a tissue in the pocket helps).
The rule of introductions is to do it with ease. Remember to introduce the person with the most authority to the individual with less authority. However, in business settings, it is okay to bestow this level of authority to the customer or guest. In networking situations, the introduction, whichever form it takes, is the main objective.
Initiate a conversation
After the introduction, provide a topic to talk about to launch a conversation. You may identify a topic of mutual interest or comment on an event. Look for groups to join a conversation or seek out certain people to meet, and if necessary, stand at the entrance of the door and say hello to people to help strike up a conversation.
While business cards are embedded in our business world, Arden Clise recommends conversation. When ready to give your business card, make sure the information is positioned so that the receiver can read the card. Keep your cards in a card holder to ensure your cards are clean, not soiled or bent.
A few additional tips from Arden included:
- Make sure your body language reflects confidence and you are approachable
- Seek out ways to introduce yourself and to strike up a conversation
- Be sure to follow-up with your new contacts with either an in-person meeting or through social media
- Have a plan when networking; know the event, think about what you want to accomplish, then take action
At LWHRA, we offer many opportunities to network, meet new people, and build professional and personal relationships. We have over 1200 members and offer many opportunities for you to create your networking strategy.
Contact us and we can help you with your plan.